Roon Core Setup help in Home office

Had Roon Core running headless on a Mac mini in my work office and am moving Hi-Res to home office so I need some help to set this up better for home needs:
*Have Apple Wi-Fi Network at home (Airpprt Time Machine Extreme with 3 Airport Express’s) throughout home on main floor
*Home Office is on 3rd floor with an iMac 27 5K (2015 i5 w/32GB Ram) using Kef X300A and Kef LSX, the X300A have USB input and the LSX only have Toslink which poses me a few issues using the Mac mini from my office, it does not have Toslink output. I have an 8TB HD with 10K albums of Hi-Res on it that had hardwired to Mac mini at office.
*Can I setup the Mac mini with Roon Core on it near my Airport Base Station on main floor and hardwire via Ethernet to the ABS and then connect the 8TB HD via USB to my iMac on 3rd Floor so that my iMac runs Roon Remote but can play files from my External 8TB HD to my desktop setup (X300A and LSX) via iMac USB and Toslink outputs or is there a better and less cluttered way to do this? I am fine buying a Nucleus if it is a better Core and setup but I can’t see how it would be any different. As an aside we have Sonos speakers in every room of the house and play Tidal via Sonos 16 hours a day 7 days a week so any integration with Roon at home would be a bonus but not necessary.

Thanks in advance for the help and if I am missing anything that I think of I will reply below.

To simplify:
Can I connect my Mac mini running Core to my router via Ethernet and then connect my external 8TB HD with Hi-Res library to my iMac in another room and have access to all of the hi-res files on the connected external hd over Roon and directly out of my iMac via optical toslink to my KEF LSX speakers?

If a networked drive is mounted, you can select it as the library source. But, running Core with locally attached storage is far preferable. An iMac has optical out, via a 3.5mm headphone jack to Optical audio (TOSLink) cable.

Thank you for the reply. So I’m gathering that even if the external HD (hi-res library) is connected via usb to the iMac and iMac to KEF via toslink that the song information will have to travel via WiFi to the Roon Core and then back to the iMac to play via iMac output to the Kef LSX? That is not what I was hoping to hear.

In this scenario it appears I’d be better off running Roon Core on my iMac (iMac is on home network via WiFi only because there is not access to hardwire it via Ethernet to my router from 3rd floor) and then the song information will go directly to kef’s via the iMac/core output? I’m not concerned with HI-Res audio information to the rest of the house via sonos network because I can just continue tidal via sonos with room control.
Thanks again for reply.

No, a locally USB connected drive does not require a network as it’s connected via USB. Roon Server, running on the iMac, can serve music from the local USB hard drive, EITHER via locally connected Toslink (your Kef LSX), OR via network to network connected endpoint. Sorry if my last reply was a little ambiguous :slight_smile:

A little confusing, but I think the OP’s quote that you included was referencing the case where the core was still running on the downstairs Mini.:slightly_smiling_face:

If that’s the case, then this is true -

And, so is this -

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Thank you. Yes I’d prefer to keep the mini downstairs next to router for Ethernet connection but ultimately if the music file information would have to travel from 3rd floor iMac to the main floor and then back again to iMac for output to kef’s then I’m defeating purpose. Do you see a better way for me to accomplish this in my setup?

Priorities being 8TB hi-res library output to kef’s in 3rd floor office with Roon control?

Why can’t you attach the HDD to the downstairs Mini?

I can do that (it was how I had it at work office but everything [core/remote/library] was hard wired together via Ethernet & USB) and then the hi-res library info will travel over wireless to 3rd floor office iMac as remote and play via toslink to kef’s. I thought I would lose quality over WiFi. I’ll go this suggested route and see what gives. Thank you.

Not necessarily. Some people think WiFi is better for SQ, but that’s an argument I don’t want to initiate, again.

See, if you connect the HDD to your Mac and then share it with your downstairs Mini, then you are making a round trip, i.e. music from Mac HDD to Mini core and back again to be played. All over WiFi. Definitely not the way to go.

As a caveat, I’ve noticed on this forum that many people have trouble with Airport WiFi. I live in a single story and have run all my Ethernet from the basement, thru the walls, to where I want it. Don’t know what your situation is, but any competent electrician can fish wires thru multiple levels. FWIW.

Have fun.

Hello @OneEyedHito,

Thanks for contacting support regarding these questions.

I would avoid a WiFi between your Core and the Media Location if at all possible as this is commonly the bottleneck in similar setups. I suggest that you use your 3rd floor iMac as the Core and also as the mounting location for your media to have the least amount of “hops” for Roon to go through.

You can also have your Core as the downstairs iMac provided that you are connecting the hard drive there and are using the 3rd floor only as a Roon Endpoint, but that will increase the latency a bit because it has to travel over the network to reach your 3rd floor iMac and then to the KEF endpoints. With this option you won’t lose SQ but there will likely be streaming issues if the WiFi signal is weak (and pushing out higher-resolution will be difficult).

To summarize: I would use the 3rd floor iMac as your Roon Core, mounting point for the Media and mounting point for the endpoints. If you wish to make use of TIDAL streaming or streaming to any other Ethernet based endpoints around the house, it would be best to have a hardwire link to the router and set up another Access Point on the 3rd floor (for WiFi devices) and add an unmanaged switch (for Ethernet based connections). Our Networking Best Practices Guide should also give you some more information on recommended network setups.

Hope this helps but do let me know if you have any other questions.


Thanks all for the help, here is the current SotU.

Setup Mac mini Core next to main router and connected via Ethernet, then connected USB3.0 Hi-Res HD to Mac mini. I have been streaming Hi-Res 192/24 all night to Sonos in multiple zones around house (gets downsampled to 44) and setup iMac in my 3rd floor office as an endpoint using Roon Remote and am streaming 96/24 to my Kef’s (their limitation) via WiFi and it is PERFECT for this setup. Thanks for the painful readings of my questions and the kind replies!

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